China Threatens Hostage Diplomacy

David Acevedo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.

CounterCurrent: Week of 10/18

As American education, law enforcement, and congressional leadership become more aggressive in curbing Chinese government influence in U.S. colleges and universities, a corresponding backlash has ensued. Some of these responses have been rather predictable: investigating suspected CCP spies is racist, closing Confucius Institutes impedes “honest cultural exchange,” and America, not China, is instigating tensions with a “Cold War mentality.” 

All of these criticisms ignore the simple fact that the CCP continues to (1) propagandize countless students through Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms and (2) engage in wholesale research theft through the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) and other so-called “talent-recruitment programs.” It has done so for well over a decade and only benefits from many American leaders’ continual naivete—or blissful ignorance—of the true extent of the problem. 

Those that do recognize this pressing danger are sounding the alarm, and in some cases, making arrests. They realize that no amount of “research collaboration” or “cultural exchange” is worth opening our doors to rampant communist propaganda, research theft, and dark money. We are beginning to restore transparency and academic integrity in American higher education, and China isn’t happy to see its knots of influence unravelled.

Case in point: over the weekend, Chinese government officials warned that it may begin detaining Americans as retaliation for U.S. actions against Chinese influence, reports the Wall Street Journal. Their crime? The CCP will figure that part out. As Kate O’Keeffe and Aruna Viswanatha write, “The Chinese message, the people said, has been blunt: The U.S. should drop prosecutions of the Chinese scholars in American courts, or Americans in China might find themselves in violation of Chinese law.”

The CCP is no stranger to hostage diplomacy, a practice that is much more indicative of a “Cold War mentality” of which American officials are accused. In this week’s featured article, Bradley J. Murg of The Diplomat argues that this strategy will likely hurt, not help, Beijing in the long run. He writes, 

It has been argued that Beijing views the United States as weak and hopelessly divided – opening space for China to assume a commanding role on the global stage. Ironically, targeting Americans in a further expansion of hostage diplomacy could very well achieve the exact opposite: a more unified U.S. (albeit one with substantial domestic political disagreements) and a new White House locked into an ever more aggressive containment strategy.

China has officially upped the ante, and it’s now our turn to respond. Will a new White House pursue this “aggressive containment strategy” as Murg predicts? Or will we allow these threats to intimidate us into silence and inaction? Much is at stake and time is of the essence.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Executive Office of the President of the United States, Public Domain

  • Share

Most Commented

October 31, 2023


University of Washington Violated Non-Discrimination Policy, Internal Report Finds

A faculty hiring committee at the University of Washington “inappropriately considered candidates’ races when determining the order of offers,” provided “disparate op......

January 24, 2024


After Claudine

The idea has caught on that the radical left overplayed its hand in DEI and is now vulnerable to those of us who seek major reforms. This is not, however, the first time that the a......

December 9, 2023


The Presidents and Academic Freedom

What are the boundaries of “free speech?” They are pretty much the same as the boundaries of civilization. Savages need not apply....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....